Buzzwords come and go, but some stick around. Two new terms you may have heard recently -- Web 3.0 and the metaverse --are frequently used interchangeably, but they are two different technologies.
Keep reading to learn what they are, what they aren't and how they differ.
What is Web3?
Web 3.0, or Web3, has only recently been defined. Primarily, Web3 aims to be fully decentralized, putting content creation in the hands of creators and not platform owners.
While no one owns the internet, a few major companies exert considerable influence, and some critics say they have too much power. Web3 democratizes the internet and puts control back in the hands of users.
Web3 consists of five components:
- Semantic web. The semantic web uses AI to understand what a user or customer may mean or intend. It's designed to provide a more accurate understanding of searches based on the actual meaning of the search words rather than keywords or numbers.
- AI. The AI of Web3 is designed to better understand what someone is searching for to provide more relevant results.
- 3D graphics and spatial web. The use of virtual reality (VR) headsets and realistic graphics enables websites to become more realistic in nature.
- Blockchain and cryptocurrency. Key to the decentralization of Web3 is the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency, which eliminate middlemen and enable direct transactions between parties.
- Ubiquitous connectivity. Web3 applications are characterized by constant connection due to broadband, 5G, Wi-Fi and IoT.
In the fully realized spatial web, every element of every building in the physical world will be fully digitized. There will be virtual avatars for each human, and one will be able to roam virtual work or meeting places. This means every piece of information around the world will become spatial.
Now, try to visualize the spatial web. Imagine Google Earth in street view mode, but you can walk into the buildings rather than scroll by them. Spatial web consists of IoT wearables such as smart glasses, autonomous sensors and decentralized computing with blockchain.
There's also augmented reality (AR), which overlays information on an object, such as including trivia and instructions to conduct repairs.
Learn more here about what Web 3.0 means for your business.
What is the metaverse?
Despite Facebook changing its corporate name to Meta in 2021, the metaverse isn't a Facebook effort, although Facebook is a participant in the metaverse.
The metaverse is a device- and vendor-independent collective virtual space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It has its own independent virtual economy, enabled by digital currencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
Education, medical, retail and virtual events can deliver a more immersive experience. They don't have to create their own infrastructure, but the metaverse will provide the framework. Virtual events can present more integrated offerings, while retail can offer a more immersive shopping experience.
In this regard, the metaverse is not unlike the spatial web of Web3. It's a virtual immersive experience focused on 3D graphics and the real-world image, rather than 2D graphics and text like the current web experience. Instead of clicking through a site's links, users walk through it virtually.
Differences between Web3 and metaverse
The biggest difference between the two technologies is that people use Web3 to access the metaverse, much like how an automobile uses a road.
Web3 is about decentralized ownership and control and putting the web in the hands of its users and the community. The metaverse, on the other hand, is a shared digital reality that enables users to connect with each other, build economies and interact in real time -- and it doesn't care who owns it.
Web3 is also built on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, while the metaverse uses technologies such as AR/VR and digital currency. This is due to Web3 being decentralized and having no major corporate influence or control.
The two also differ in how they are used. Web3 is a new set of standards for how the internet should be used and governed. The metaverse is about gaming, social media, retail and other experiences.
Common ground between Web3 and the metaverse
Web3 and the metaverse are inseparably linked to each other. The metaverse will continue to exist in surface and deep webs, even though Web3 is still frequently referred to as decentralized; however, the metaverse will remain centralized in terms of social media controlling platforms.
Both are built on advanced technologies that will evolve. The semantic web is common ground for both the metaverse and Web3. AI -- another key component of both technologies -- will be integral to building a sophisticated user interface.
In a technological sense, many of the advancements made with blockchain create common ground in both technologies. Every new blockchain concept is assessed as a potential module to integrate the Web3 engine that will power metaverse goods and services.
Web3 and the metaverse are in early stages. The final products will come years from now and may be quite different, as technology doesn't always match the vision of its use.